This post was last updated on May 8th, 2019 at 08:34 am
An unidentified 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died in the federal custody on Tuesday. Due to his poor health conditions, he was being hospitalized for several days at a Texas children’s hospital where he took his last breath. Since December, three of the migrant children have fallen ill and died in custody. The situation has raised serious concerns within the government and health department officials.
The cause of recent death remains unclear. Due to lack of identified facts about the boy and his family, he was detained initially at an Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter, where a border agent observed his first signs of illness. The boy was then rushed to the hospital for examination. The doctors treated his fever and he was thereby discharged. However, his health deteriorated the same evening and he was readmitted to the hospital, where he died after hours of treatment. Unlike the other two migrant children, the boy’s whereabouts were missing as he was traveling alone.
It was later identified that Jakelin Caal Maquin, who traveled from Guatemalan village to the US with her father died at the Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso in December. She was the first child who had died in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. Due to extreme poverty, her father had wanted to work in the country to earn a better living.
The 7-year-old girl was detained with her father by the Border Patrol agents about half a mile west of the Antelope Wells port of entry in the New Mexico desert. Initially the girl had shown no signs of illness, but her health deteriorated during a 90-minute bus ride, which later led to her death.
The girl’s autopsy report concluded that she died from a bacterial infection called streptococcal sepsis. The infection rapidly spread in her body parts including her lungs, adrenal gland, liver, and spleen, causing “multiple organ dysfunction and death”.
Similarly, another migrant child, who was detained with his father by the CBP, died weeks later in December. The death of the 8-year-old Felipe was due to Influenza B virus, which was complicated by an infection caused by staphylococcus bacteria that eventually led to sepsis.
The death of three migrant children within five months had led to a wave of criticism in the country, questioning the treatment of the migrants by the CBP members. The migrants, who have continuously tried to cross the border in a hope to earn a better living, have seen it as a sign of warning.
As a result, the government has been taking steps to avoid migrant children’s death due to infections. It has been noted that the authorities have been ordered to bring an improvement in the facilities of medical treatment for children, especially regular medical check-ups for the minors in the custody. Additional medical professionals were asked to join the team to avoid any such deaths that had happened recently, in the near future.